How to Treat and Prevent Herpes
No one wants herpes, but, if you or your sexual partner has it, there are ways to lessen the risk of transmission and to treat the virus.
Aug 21, 2019Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Practicing Nurse Practitioner
San Francisco, CA
Barbara Dehn RN, MS, NP is a practicing Nurse Practitioner and a television health expert, who's known as Nurse Barb. She is passionate about health education, whether it's 1 on 1 with a patient, in a lecture hall at Stanford or with millions of people watching on television. Her warm and engaging personality puts everyone at ease as they learn more about health.
Nurse Barb is the award winning author of the Personal Guides to Health used by over 5 million women in the US, with titles ranging from fertility and pregnancy to menopause and breastfeeding. Active in Social Media, she contributes content to HealthyWomen, Huffington Post, NurseBarb, KevinMD and The Patch and amplifies her reach with an active and engaged Facebook following and 34,000 Twitter followers.
She is the author of The Hot Guide to a Cool Sexy Menopause, Nurse Barb's Guide to Breastfeeding and Nurse Barb's Guide to Pregnancy.
Barb earned a masters degree from UCSF and a BS from Boston College. She is certified by the North American Menopause Society and is a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Over the last 2 years, she has been an active participant in Global Health Initiatives at FAME Hospital in Karatu, Tanzania. Barb lives in the San Francisco Bay area.Full Bio
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Just mention the word herpes and people stop in their tracks. It's one of those infections that carries with it a lot of sexual baggage.
The good news is that there are safe and effective treatments that can:
When symptoms are noticeable, the virus is present in the sores and lesions in large quantities. To minimize the risk of transmission, avoid any direct contact with the lesion.
Because many people who have oral or genital herpes do not know that they have it, the virus can spread even when there are no lesions, cold sores, blisters or other symptoms present. Learn more about oral and genital herpes.
Condoms Are a Girl's Best Friend
To minimize the risk of acquiring any sexually transmitted infection (STI), use condoms with all new partners and for partners who have a history of herpes. There is still a risk of acquiring herpes, because the condom may not cover the infected area.
It's not only OK to ask your partners if they have ever had cold sores or lesions around their mouths and/or genitals, but it's also a good an idea to have STI testing before you have sex.
To prevent outbreaks of oral and genital herpes, many people take antiviral medication every day. This also helps prevent shedding and transmission to others. The options are:
To suppress the virus and help prevent transmission, these medications must be taken for at least five days. I always advise brides-to-be and anyone with a history of herpes and a big event coming up to take their anti-viral medication for at least a week before the event to prevent an outbreak.
These medications have been around for over 20 years and are very safe. There are minimal drug interactions, and many people have taken them daily for years to prevent outbreaks.
This blog originally appeared on Nurse Barb. Barb Dehn is a women's health nurse practitioner, award-winning author and nationally recognized health expert. She practices with Women Physicians in the Silicon Valley of California.